- Title: GUINEA: Junta promises elections before the end of 2009
- Date: 17th February 2009
- Summary: CONAKRY, GUINEA (FEBRUARY 15, 2009) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF STREETS WITH A POSTER OF FORMER PRESIDENT CONTE PARTIALLY DESTROYED CONAKRY, GUINEA (FEBRUARY 14, 2009) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (French) YOUSSOUF SYLLA, LAWYER AND POLITICAL ANALYST, SAYING "I think that a delay of two years is much more reasonable, but the within that delay, vigilance must be maintained. Pressure must be maintained so that the junta respects its promises." VARIOUS STREETS
- Embargoed: 4th March 2009 12:00
- Location: Guinea
- Country: Guinea
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAEJK2ESNF2IN8SXPOZMAKHN4NY
- Story Text: The leader of Guinea's junta, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara has promised to hold elections before the end of 2009 in a meeting with civil society groups, union leaders and politicians in the country's capital, Conakry.
"I reiterate and state our wish for a return to a constitutional system for our country," Captain Camara said on February 10.
Guinea's military seized power in a bloodless coup in December 2008, a week after the death of President Lasana Conte who ruled the country for nearly 25 years.
While many Guineans welcomed the military takeover as a chance to break with the autocratic rule under Conte, concern is growing that the junta rule should not be long term.
"The transitional period must not exceed 12 months," stated Rabiatou Serah Diallo, a union spokeswoman.
Initially, the junta promised to hold elections before the end of 2010.
"We must do it very soon. We must not delay because if we delay things, it will mean even more delays within the institutions," said Conakry resident, Ousseynatou Bah.
Guinea's new military rulers have also promised to stamp out graft while they are in power and tackle the growing drug trade.
In recent years, U.N. anti-narcotics experts say Guinea and its neighbours have faced a serious threat to their stability from Colombian drug-trafficking cartels using the West African coast as a transit hub to smuggle cocaine to Europe.
The vast majority of Guineans still live in poverty, without regular electricity or piped water despite Guinea having a third of the world's known bauxite, which is used to make aluminium.
The country also has gold, iron ore and diamond deposits.
"In a country where 70 percent of people are illiterate, it's not easy. It's not easy to manage this country, so I think we should give CNDD a bit of time to sort out certain issues, in particular the social problems," explained Mohamed Camara, a local doctor.
Political analyst and lawyer, Youssouf Sylla has been watching events closely.
"We are in an exceptional period, but since the Junta came into power, even though they've spoken about this as a priority, they don't have a timetable and we don't know the order they intend to follow. Will the presidential election precede legislative elections? There are many questions when it comes to these issues," Sylla told us.
There is mounting pressure to hold elections as concerns grow over the stability of the junta.
At the beginning of February, they suspended their own Finance Minister after the arrest in late January of three officers within the junta, who were accused of plotting to destabilise the new administration.
"The only important thing on which we should focus most of our time and resources, is the correct organisation of the elections which are passed by an exhaustive consensus of the population," opposition leader, Jean Marie Dore stated.
It is unlikely that the national elections will occur in the next few months according to Mamadou Saliou Diallo, an official at the Ministry of Interior, who expressed some concerns.
"In order for that to happen, the state must put forward a complete package with the funds necessary so it can take place before the end of the year. If not, I don't think that will be possible," Diallo stated.
Guinea's military was a pillar of support for Conte, but has staged a series of mutinies over pay and is accused of human rights abuses.
Rights groups say soldiers killed dozens of civilians in early 2007 to crush anti-government protests and during a mutiny earlier this year, they killed civilians in indiscriminate shooting.
Guineans may have to live under military rule for a while longer, as some experts believe scheduling elections for this year is unrealistic.
"I think that a delay of two years is much more reasonable, but the within that delay, vigilance must be maintained. Pressure must be maintained so that the Junta respects its promises," said Sylla.
Since the military takeover, Guinea has been suspended from both the West African bloc ECOWAS and the African Union, though ECOWAS has said they will work with the junta and other political actors to move quickly to elections so as to "avoid sanctions".
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